Friday, September 14, 2007
Here we see an example of prayer as proclamation.
The apostle Paul has been explaining, in the verses leading up to 3:10, the role of the apostles.
Verse 3: Paul tells us that the “mystery” of the gospel has been revealed to him by God.
Verse 4: Paul explains that, in reading his letter, the Ephesians will come to understand his insight into the mystery of the gospel.
Verse 5: Paul explains the unprecedented nature of this new “unfolding”. See, in generations past, this “mystery” was not known or understood. But now God has revealed the mystery to all mankind through the apostles and prophets.
Verse 6: Paul lifts the veil, telling us the content of the “mystery”. Drumroll, please: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are…sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Applause. “Everyone is chosen. Everyone is special.” God has fulfilled his promise to “pour out his Spirit on all people.”
Verse 7: Paul feels privileged to be called by God to work as a servant of the gospel. Being a minister is a gift of God’s grace. (More on this tomorrow)
Verse 8: Paul tells us that it’s his job to preach the “unsearchable riches” of Christ.
Verse 9: Paul tells us it’s his job to “make plain to everyone” the mystery of God that he just got done describing. He reminds us, as he did in verse 5, that this job of “making plain” the “mystery” of God is unique, since up till his day the mystery of God was kept hidden in God.
Verse 10: Paul tells us that this job of preaching, of proclaiming, of making known the “manifold wisdom” of God belongs to...(another drumroll)…the church.
(Can you hear the "fizzle" sound?)
Side note: How incredibly crazy this seems to me—that God, in all his splendor, would ask…um…the church (?!) to be his voice to the world. It almost makes me want to ask God: “Are you out of your mind?! What are you thinking?! Don’t you know we’re just a bunch of humans? Why…Why on earth would you ask a bunch of moral and social misfits to do something as grand as the proclamation of your MANIFOLD WISDOM?”
Yes, that’s right: God’s intent is that now, through the church, the MANIFOLD WISDOM of God should be made known…
And, lest you think I’m embellishing here, keep in mind: almost all of that last sentence should have been in quotation marks. Simply substitute the word “God” with the word “His” and the word “is” with the word “was” and, yes, there you have it: a direct quotation.
But that was just a side note. The verse has a second half. Here it is:
First half: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…”
Second half: “…to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”
Huh? I don’t get it.
Okay, recap: Paul tells us in the previous verses that, up till the time of Christ, the mystery of God was hidden. Then he tells us that now it has been revealed. Then he tells us it’s our job to “make known” the mystery of God to others. In verse 8, he specifies that the Gentiles are to be included in knowing about this mystery and that it is his job to proclaim it to them. But then in the second half of verse 10 he throws in another surprise. He tells us that we are also to make known the wisdom of God to “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”
Um…okay, Paul. Let me ask you: just how are we supposed to do that, pray tell?
Me: Um…what do you mean, “yes”?
Paul: You said, “How are we supposed to make known the wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms? Pray tell?” And I said, “Yes: pray tell.”
Me: Okay, my funky dude. Explain your funky self.
Paul: Ha, ha. That’s funny. Okay, no more games: Your job is to tell the adverse powers (that would seek to keep us confused, blinded, and in the dark) what their place is. God’s wisdom will be made known to people when we proclaim “Jesus is Lord” to Satan and his legions.
Me: Um…okay. It sounds like you’re telling me to pray.
Paul: Yes, sort of.
Me: What do you mean “sort of”?
Paul: Don’t just pray; pray TELL.
Me: What’s the difference?
Paul: A big difference. Prayer means all sorts of things: petition, intercession, praise, adoration, confession. But “pray tell”-ing is a special kind of prayer. Think of it as “prayer as proclamation”.
Me: I think I see now. In prayer as proclamation, we’re exercising the authority of the risen Jesus in the heavenly realms.
Paul: Yes, to the “rulers and authorities” there.
Me: So, let me get this straight. Are you telling me that the church’s main job is to make known the mystery of the gospel to the world by proclaiming the authority of Christ to the adverse powers in prayer?
Paul: That’s a good way of putting it.
Me: But, don’t we need to do more? Like, make friends with people who need to know the gospel and share the gospel message with them?
Paul: Yes, of course we do, but how do you think you’ll have those chances in the first place? Through your own effort? No, that will only happen as you pray. After all, the real action is taking place in the world you can’t see with your eyes. There is so much more going on there than you’ll ever realize.
Me: So, pray more?
Paul: Pray TELL more.
Me: And, the world will change?
Paul: Of course. How could it not?
To read the next nugget in the series, click here.